Jesus leads His flock like a shepherd. May we rejoice in the delights of His fold!
1. "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in need."
Happy the soul that, looking to Jesus as the great, the good, the one Shepherd, can add in truth, "And He is mine. I have heard His calling voice; I have seen His inviting smile; I have fled to Him; I have entered into His fold; I have committed myself to His guardian care; He has received me; He has given me most gracious welcome; I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine." With what joyous rapture may the inhabitant of the fold continue, "I shall not be in need!" How can need be mine? He who is pledged to my support has all resources in His hand; He has all power in heaven and earth. He who has promised to give me eternal life will not allow me to perish by the way. The end secured is security along the road.
We sometimes err in our desires. In blindness we crave injurious pastures. It is our wisdom to leave all to Him. He is all wisdom and all love. He will tend wisely and most kindly. All good things will assuredly abound. Perhaps we err if we claim this psalm as our exclusive portion. Jesus Himself once knew the need of the poor sheep; but He found a Shepherd in His heavenly Father, and He lacked nothing.
2. "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters."
A picture of rural beauty expands before us. We see a happy flock resting in calm quietness in fields rich in luxuriant plenty; we see them guided to meadows through which refreshing streams glide tranquilly. The scene is perfect. Here is repose amid abundance. Nothing disturbs the calm enjoyment.
The antitype is the believer's soul secure from all alarms, peaceful in knowledge of the Lord's protection, feasting on the rich provision of His Word, regaled with sustaining promises, nurtured by the Spirit's rich supplies, reposing under the shadow of the cross, drinking the cooling streams of scriptural teaching, delighting in the sacramental feast. How ample is this sweet provision! Who will not thankfully exclaim, "I have all, and abound?"
This picture also exhibits Jesus. Amid His many troubles His soul could calmly rest on the assurance of His Father's love, and feed rejoicingly on covenant engagement.
3. "He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."
There are times when grace appears to fade, when trials trouble and depress, when lively vigor faints and deadness chills the soul. Sad indeed would be the outcome unless the watchful Shepherd rendered help; but He assists the downcast; He shows reviving smiles; He brings the cordial of some precious promise. The withering leaf renews its freshness; the tottering limbs again are strong; the heavenward path in ways of righteousness is again stoutly trod.
Jesus often drank depression's weakening cup. His soul was troubled; but help from above restored unwavering strength.
4. "Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
Our sorest trial is when, with feeble step, we traverse the cheerless valley of death. The climate is chilly. Nature fails. We shrink from the icy hand; but still there is no fear. The tender Shepherd is by our side; His gentle guidance removes apprehension. The waters fail to overwhelm. Sweet texts bring light, and the Spirit applies comfort. Your rod, Your staff, the emblems of the Shepherd's care, drive back the threatening foes, and give sustaining strength. To lean on Jesus in the darkest hour is light and joy and peace. The Good Shepherd knows the chilly hand of death. He has passed this dark valley; but His God was with Him. Ministering angels brought support. He found no evil, and no evil shall destroy His sheep.
5. "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over."
Our enemies stand round in vast array, but they cannot destroy enjoyments. In their sight God spread a banquet of delights. His inward unction causes the heart to show all kinds of radiant joy, as the countenance refreshed with ointments. We hold a cup; God's hand supplies it; He pours in pleasures to the extent of capacity to receive. The overjoyed believer feels, "Stop, stop; it is enough;" but still the goblet overflows. Who can measure the delights of God's presence, smile, and word?
6. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Such is faith's sweet assurance. While days below continue, goodness and mercy, close as closest shadow, shall bring up the rear. What good thing can be absent if the Lord is present, and Jesus confirms the pledge, "Lo, I am with you all the days, even to the end of the world?" Failure there can never be. No sheep will perish or be left behind. All will be safely gathered in the many-mansioned house. There will the Great Shepherd ever dwell amid His ransomed flock. Great Shepherd, You are our all; we lovingly adore You!